NCAA Final Four 2002
Review of NCAA Final Four 2002
The first thing you notice is that this has every Division 1-A team and mascots to choose to play from. Already we are off to a good start. Some of the major programs arenas are true to form, but the smaller colleges and universities have a good representation of their arena, usually nicer than the glorified gyms that some of these teams play in. The next thing you notice, of course, are the graphics. I wasn’t expecting any super-realistic player modeling due to the fact that this is for college and there are just way too many players. The players are not rendered too smoothly, and the polygon edges (blockiness) are noticeable. In addition, their movement is rather stiff. The background bitmaps are very nice and the basketball floors have a nice shine to them and do react to the light and shadows. The choice of camera angles is strange though and I found none to be very good, but they all are serviceable. The one thing that shows that the PS2 is being used closer to its potential is the player size in relationship to the court. Now you don’t see pea-sized players on the court, they actually “fit” in relation to their surroundings.
Playability is another issue, though. The learning curve for this game seems to be higher than on other basketball titles. The controls are generally the same as what has become “standard” for basketball games, but this one seems to have a strange shot meter that pops up at certain times that early on ends up with the player called for traveling since you can’t seem to get the shot to release. This is called touch shooting and how to work it properly is buried deep in the manual. The maddening thing about it is it pops up at the worst times. The difference between a quick shot and this meter coming up is a little too sensitive. It’s a learning curve, but maybe should have been combined with a shoulder button to engage it when it’s really needed. On defense, there seems to be less defensive moves than are in other b-ball games. There is no hand check, just steal. The button to switch to the nearest player to the ball is the circle, and is the X on other games. The X does an auto defense in this game.
One thing to help with offensive plays is to go into setup and choose an offensive strategy. As in real college ball, then the player who brings the ball up needs to wait for the offense to set. Then he can pass to an open man and get the score. Otherwise, the other team just ends up clogging all the lanes and you can’t get squat off as far as shots.
As with most sports games, you can create your own player with special abilities, etc. Go ahead; build your own Frankenstein team and watch as you bowl over lesser opponents. This is similare dynasty mode, maybe you want to add new “freshmen” to your roster as seniors graduate and duplicate some real freshmen in the NCAAs today. Of course, the dynasty mode is all based on a more realistic environment, and you will have the ability to recruit new players after each season. You will have to cut or graduate players before you can recruit new ones.
The sound effects and play-by-play announcing are excellent. Billy Packer is your play-by-play announcer and he’s joined in the booth by Eddie Doucette. Not only is there the typical canned phrases that are used in certain situations, but there are other comments thrown in about the school and how they’ve done in the NCAAs. I was playing a middle-tier school and there were comments about how they were last in the tournament in 1999. The sound effects are excellent and the soundtrack is nothing special, but also not annoying.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'NCAA Final Four 2002' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Downey © Absolute PlayStation
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